Last time I checked, Puerto Rico was a territory of the United States of America, governed basically by the same judicial and legal provisions as all 50 states. Puerto Rico is home to more than 4 million American citizens and among those 4 million American citizens, there are more than 200,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and transgender citizens who are, for the most part, unaccounted for by local politicians, lawmakers and by their fellow citizens. I canâ€™t help but wonder, why do LGBT mainland based organizations leave us behind? Why arenâ€™t we part of their struggle, which is also our struggle? I can speculate about the reasons, but to tell you the truth, I really donâ€™t have an answer. What I can truthfully tell you is why I believe Puerto Rico should not be left behind in the LGBT debate in the USA.
In case you donâ€™t already know, please allow me to point out some historical and political facts about the relationship between the USA and PR. Puerto Rico became a territory of the United States as a result of the Hispanic-American War of 1898. Spain, by means of the Treaty of Paris, surrendered us as a bounty of war. The USA military took possession of the Island immediately. In 1917 the USA Congress, by means of the Jones Act, granted the people of Puerto Rico American citizenship; in 1948 the people of Puerto Rico elected their first native (Puerto Rican) Governor; in 1952 the people of Puerto Rico approved and enacted The Constitution for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, which, by the way, has a broader scope of protection than the USA Constitution, in terms of due process and equal protections. Throughout our 107 year relationship, Puerto Rican soldiers have fought and are currently fighting to preserve and uphold the liberties and freedom granted by the American democracy. Our LGBT soldiers also have to put up with the â€śDonâ€™t Ask. Donâ€™t Tellâ€ť policy. The USA Congress has granted us treatment similar to that of any other state of the union, in terms of benefits and legislation. We are part of the American judicial system: we have a District Court for the District of Puerto Rico, which belongs to the 1st Circuit of the Court of Appeals; our writs for Certiorari invoking any protection under the USA constitution or any federal law are also considered by the USA Supreme Court. The DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) was ratified by the Puerto Rico legislature in 1998. We have no hate crime or employment anti-discriminationact. Puerto Ricans participate in national politics, comprising a delegation in both the Republican and Democratic parties.